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Types of Hoe and How to Use

There is a bewildering array of gardening hoes and choosing the correct one is sometimes a challenging task.

In reality though there are only two basic types of hoe on the market plus a new one introduced by Wilkinson Sword a few years ago. To make it even simpler, only one of the two basic types is suitable for weeding. The other type of hoe is designed for earthing up soil or forming seed drills.


Picture of a Dutch hoe The two types are commonly referred to as the cutting hoe and the draw hoe. The draw hoe is designed to easily form seed drills or earth up potatoes.

This article is concerned with weeding with a hoe so we will leave the draw hoe aside for another article. We also restrict this article to hoes which are commonly used by gardeners. The hoe on the left is a Dutch hoe, the typical cutting hoe.

The cutting hoe does exactly what is says, it cuts weeds. It is also known as the push or Dutch hoe. This is the one you want for weeding. The head of the hoe is laid on the ground and then pushed back and forward just below soil level, severing the top of the weed from the roots. The leading edge of the head of the hoe should be kept sharp so that weeds are cut rather than dragged.

A new type of cutting hoe was introduced by Wilkinson Sword a few years ago and was named the "Swoe". The difference with this hoe is that three of the edges on the head are sharp. This allows the hoe to be used not only back and forwards but side to side as well. The head is also smaller than the traditional Dutch hoe which allows for far more accuracy when hoeing near plants.


In our experience two types of hoe stand out, the Dutch hoe and the Swoe (see left). If you are going for the Swoe then it has to be from Wilkinson Sword because they are the only company that manufacture this type of hoe.

Of the normal Dutch hoes stick with the ones that have a stainless steel head. There are some carbon steel ones available but the head will rust. In our opinion, the Wilkinson Sword Dutch hoes are the best. The length of the handles are correct for most people, they are light and cut well.

Between the Swoe and and the Dutch hoe we would opt for the Swoe. We have one and it's great. Reading the reviews, it seems to always come out the favourite.